An employee of the suddenly closed Marietta body shop speaks


A Marietta auto body shop has closed, leaving customers scrambling to find their vehicles. And now a former employee speaks to the FOX 5 I-Team.

Cobb County police reports from Auto Innovations customers began flooding in mid-February. People left their cars at the body shop for repair, but the business just disappeared. Well, auto body technician Brian Harper says he’s been trying to track down his expensive tools ever since.

He explains how he found out the shop was closed. He said he had been sick for a few days at his job at Auto Innovations. He thought he might have COVID-19. But he did not do it. He got the negative results on February 5. Relieved, he called his boss Shelly Jackson with the good news, he said.

“I sent the results to Shelly, and she never mentioned it happening,” he added.

What was happening? She was being evicted from the Canton Road business location. According to Cobb County Magistrate’s Court records, Shelley Jackson was due out the next day, Feb. 6.

Harper said he got a call from a friend who had driven by Auto Innovations. There seemed to be a big movement going on. “And he said, ‘Hey, you know they load up all your tools? “I said, ‘No, I didn’t know that. I reached out, texted, called, no response.”

And so his journey to find his expensive tools began much like customers trying to find their vehicles.

Tracy Lewis’ case is one of many Cobb County police reports. Much like Harper’s situation, she told police she drove past the store and what she saw surprised her. He has had a facelift.

“There must have been about 50 to 80 cars there. All the cars left,” she said.

The sudden closure of this Cobb County auto body shop left customers and an employee scrambling for their vehicles and tools.

The Auto Innovations website says it has “MOVED”. But it doesn’t say where. It has now been eight weeks. This location is now sold, with a new name and new management. The Fox 5 I-Team contacted Ms. Jackson about an update, but did not hear back.

Brian Harper was able to track down many of his tools, persistent texting his boss. The total left behind, he said, is about “$33,000.” He estimates an outstanding amount of approximately “$7,000”.

His texts show that Brian asked Shelly Jackson to give him the rest of his supplies. She said she would leave them at the old shop with the new owner. He said no, but she did anyway, sending a photo showing their location.

“She said she put it inside the fence here,” he said as he led us through the old store with a new owner.

The FOX 5 I-Team accompanied him to find his expensive specialized equipment. It wasn’t here. Or behind the store. We even looked in the windows. The new store owner has put his stuff inside the store for the weekend for safety.

Perseverance paid off for Tracy Lewis, too. She said the police helped her negotiate the return of her car, but the drop off was odd.

“My car is literally around a corner in my driveway. No one knocked on the door,” she said while standing in her driveway. The keys, she told me, were found in a flowerpot.

In the meantime, Brian Harper is still trying to iron out the final details so he can move on.

“We don’t even have our tax information. And the thing is, I don’t get ‘I don’t need you, I can’t use you, here are your papers.'”

Which means he still can’t apply for unemployment.

Once again, the old location of Auto Innovations has a new owner and a new company. No one is responsible for the missing vehicles today.

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